The LEADER program, an acronym from the French Liaison Entre Actions de Développement de l’Economie Rurale (Links between actions for the development of the rural economy) is an initiative promoted by the European Union to support rural development projects that are designed and coordinated according to the so-called “bottom-up approach” in order to promote local socioeconomic growth.
Introduced in the EU schedule with the 1988 structural funds reform, LEADER represented an important step in the long process of evolution of EU policy for the affirmation of a new concept of rurality where agriculture is perceived not only as an economic activity to be strengthened in itself, but also as the instrument to integrate all the resources that characterize the area (handicrafts, tourism, quality of life for the population) into a participatory development model on a local scale, ensuring its protection as an environmental and cultural factor.
Rural areas that adhere to LEADER organize themselves into Local Action Groups (LAGs) and formulate their development strategy in a programmatic document called a Local Development Program where they indicate their priorities in a medium-term period (about five years). In the current programming phase (2014/2020) LEADER has reached its fifth edition.
The Canavese Valleys LAG is on its third LEADER planning experience; in fact, it has participated in the initiative from the 2000/2006 period when the Leader Plus version extended the program to also include the greater metropolitan area of the City of Turin.